Example Letter #1
I feel I owe you a personal apology for my insensitive comment at the meeting yesterday. I know these days since John's funeral have been very difficult for you, and I was clearly out of order in making reference to "merry widows." I'm sorry you had to suffer from my foolishness.
I hope you will be able to forgive me. I have tremendous respect for you and your abilities, and I hope we can continue to work well together. I'm terribly sorry.
Example Letter #2
I'm sorry I spoke so sharply to you on the phone last night. As you know, I am a morning person and I had been asleep for about fifteen minutes when you called. I'm not sure I was completely awake.
You are a dear friend, and I would not intentionally hurt your feelings. Please accept my apology and let me make it up to you by taking you to lunch Friday. It's been a while since we had a good talk.
Example Letter #3
I am so sorry for the way I spoke about you in the interview. My comments were very insensitive and I know they must have hurt you. I hope you will forgive me and try to understand how something like this might happen when I open my big mouth. The trouble is, I tend to speak sarcastically even when my audience might be apt to take me literally. I hope you will believe what you hear me say instead of what you read. Our relationship is very valuable to me. I hope you will allow me to make this up to you.
Example Letter #4
I want you to know how sorry I am for the misunderstanding over who was going to pay for Jane's birthday lunch. I assumed we would each pay an equal share, but I must have given you the impression that the lunch was my treat. I am really embarrassed about the breakdown in communication. I will be sure in the future that I make the arrangements clear ahead of time. Anyway, I am happy we could get together; we don't see each other often enough. I am glad our friendship can survive misunderstandings like these.
Write Your Letter Step-by-Step
1 Begin with a straightforward apology. Do not rehash the incident, but be specific enough that your reader will know that you acknowledge your error.
Sample Sentences for Step 1
- I am sorry I missed our appointment on Tuesday. I know it was an important one.
- I am sorry for the way I acted at your party last night. I could tell that you had put a lot of work into making sure everyone was having a good time. Everyone was, until my unfortunate comment.
- I'm sorry I didn't return your phone call.
- I am so sorry I forgot your birthday. My neglect was inexcusable. I always look forward to celebrating your birthday, so I was devastated when I realized I had forgotten it.
- I apologize if I offended you by not accepting the ride you offered me this morning.
- I am sorry that I let our conversation last night escalate into an argument. I should not have continued to pursue the issue.
- I apologize for not acknowledging your excellent performance in helping secure the Doe contract.
- I am sorry for snapping at you this morning.
Sample Phrases for Step 1
- accept my apologies for any concern I have caused
- accept my apology for the unfortunate incident that
- am so sorry I forgot your birthday
- apologize for not acknowledging your excellent performance
- apologize for the concern I caused
- apologize if I offended you by
- apologize if this is the impression I gave
- apology for the inappropriate remarks
- behavior was very much out of character
- challenging circumstances can bring out the
- cringe every time I recall the remark that
- deeply regret that
- displayed poor judgment in
- feel guilty for having let this situation continue
- feel terrible because I think I may have hurt your feelings
- it was an important one
- it was certainly not my intention
- it was inexcusable
- just kept on pushing
- most inappropriate remarks
- not my usual reaction
- recognize that it has caused changes in
- should have backed off when
- sincerely regret my actions
- sorry for snapping at you this morning
- sorry for the way I acted at your party
- sorry I missed our appointment on
- sorry that I did not return your phone call
- sorry that I let our conversation escalate into
- the consequences of my actions may
- think I owe you an apology
- until my unfortunate comment
- want to extend an apology to you for my part in the
- was devastated when I realized that I had
2 Acknowledge the reader's pain, if appropriate.
Sample Sentences for Step 2
- Thank you for the way you handled the incident at the time. I am sure I caused you an awkward moment. You showed remarkable restraint in quietly asking me to leave.
- I know it can be extremely frustrating when you have worked hard on a project only to see other people get the recognition.
- Jane, I know you were looking forward to our lunch date as much as I was. I am disappointed that my forgetfulness caused us to miss it.
- I know how frustrating it is to leave several urgent messages for someone and receive no response.
- I know it is annoying when someone misses an important appointment, so I sincerely appreciate your patience.
- I know it can be hurtful when you work hard on a project only to have your boss not acknowledge your efforts. I assure you that I did notice and appreciate your efforts, even though in the presentation I failed to mention it.
- I can imagine how hurt you must have been, so I am grateful for the kindness you showed me after the incident.
Sample Phrases for Step 2
- after all you had done to
- am aware that you were justifiably hurt
- annoying when someone misses an important appointment
- apologize for the concern I caused you
- as disappointed as you are that
- can imagine how hurt you must have been when
- can imagine how upset you must have been
- can see why you felt that way
- can be hurtful when you work hard on a project only to have
- certainly didn't mean to hurt
- don't blame you for feeling
- extremely frustrating when you have
- feel bad that I caused
- grateful for the patience you showed
- have admirable self-restraint
- how frustrating it is to
- only to see other people get recognition
- realize that this caused
- realize you work hard to
- regret any embarrassment it may have caused you
- understand the hurt you feel
- understand the frustration that
- what I said must have put you in an awkward position
- wouldn't blame you for
3 Ask for forgiveness and indicate that you value your relationship with the reader.
Sample Sentences for Step 3
- Please forgive me. I promise this will never happen again.
- Please forgive me for what I said and accept these flowers as a token of my regret and of the high esteem in which I hold you and your family.
- I am especially embarrassed about this since I value your friendship so much. Please forgive me.
- I value you as a colleague and friend. Please forgive me for my tactless oversight.
- I value your presence in class, and I am especially pleased when you share insights from your European experience.
- I love you and regret causing you any pain. Thank you for caring enough to share your feelings with me. Please forgive me for what I did. It won't happen again.
Sample Phrases for Step 3
- accept these flowers as a token of
- accept this gift
- am committed to our relationship
- apologize for my part in the
- appreciate your decision to not
- are very special to me
- forgive me for my poor choice of words
- greatly respect you
- have missed you
- hope you will accept my apology
- hope we can put this unfortunate incident behind us
- hope you will consider a reinstatement for
- look forward to many good times
- please forgive me
- please forgive me for what I did
- please forgive me for my tactless oversight
- regret having hurt you
- truly appreciate all you have
- value your friendship so much
- value your presence in
- value you as a colleague and friend
- your friendship is very important to me
4 Explain your behavior if appropriate, but do not excuse it in any way.
Sample Sentences for Step 4
- I was frustrated because my hard disk had just crashed, and I lashed out at the person who happened to be closest to me--you. I feel ashamed that I directed my anger toward you, especially since you were kind enough to help me.
- I did not mean to ignore you. Evidently, the tape on my answering machine needed to be replaced. It is now fixed, so call me anytime. I would love to hear from you.
- I was wrong. I have no excuse. I assure you this will not happen again.
- What I did was inexcusable. I can only promise to never do it again.
- I had already accepted John's offer for a ride, and I saw him coming just as you rolled down your window to ask me. I think car pooling is a great idea. If you want, I will swing by and pick you up tomorrow on the way to work.
- I can only explain my behavior by the terrible day I was having, but that is no excuse for treating you the way I did. I know your day was challenging, too.
Sample Phrases for Step 4
- acted too hastily
- become so focused on a single goal that
- did not mean to ignore
- did not communicate well
- did not pay attention to
- didn't cope well with the pressures
- didn't handle the stress well
- everything went wrong
- feel ashamed that I directed my anger toward
- had incorrect information
- had already accepted another's offer
- let my personal problems get in the way
- problems seemed to multiply
- regret having let this situation continue
- studied the situation further and discovered that
- thought of it as a prank instead of
- was not considerate
- was upset that
- was frustrated because
5 End with a positive statement.
Sample Sentences for Step 5
- Friends like you are few and far between.
- Please accept the flowers with this note as a token of my affection.
- You are a true friend indeed.
- I assure you that this incident will not happen again.
- I am glad for a friend as understanding as you. I am looking forward to our luncheon on Friday.
- I am glad to have you as a co-worker and look forward to getting back to work tomorrow.
- To make it up to you, let's reschedule for Wednesday. This time, please let me provide lunch.
Sample Phrases for Step 5
- for my part, I will do my best to
- friends like you are few and far between
- glad for a friend as understanding as you
- glad to have you as a co-worker
- have been friends long before this
- having a small get-together
- look forward to sharing a pleasant evening with
- make sure that we have this resolved
- meeting the challenge with enthusiasm
- nothing similar will occur again
- please accept the flowers with this note as a token of
- please let me provide lunch
- promise to pay special attention to
- recommitted myself to
- rest assured that
- sincere thanks for your patience
- thank you for your kindness and fairness
- thank you for understanding
- thank your for your efforts
- to make it up to you, let's reschedule for
- true friend indeed